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Two-Spirit Community Applauds DOMA Strikedown and Dismissal of Prop 8

The National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations applauds and celebrates the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a vote of 5-4 and the court’s dismissal the Proposition 8, making it possible for same-sex marriages again in California.

"It's a good day to celebrate the decision to overturn DOMA and the dismissal of Prop 8," said Sharon Day of Minneapolis’ Indigenous People’s Task Force. "Perhaps now more of our tribal governments will pass marriage equality laws, after all respect was a value shared by all tribes/Nations observed along with equality between all people including our Two-Spirit people."

"The Supreme Court's decision," said Harlan Pruden, a leader of the NorthEast Two-Spirit Society, "is an equalizer for today’s Two-Spirit married same-sex couples as it was before the colonizers came to this land. It has now come full circle, and once again our relationships are celebrated and supported as they should have been all along."

National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations is a coalition of 15 Two-Spirit organizations across the United States located in 11 states whose members work to fill a void within the larger LGBT and Native communities to provide a safe and affirming space that celebrates the Two-Spirit identity by providing culturally appropriate services and working to restore and reclaim the Two-Spirit people to their rightful place of honor within their Native communities.

Background on Court Cases

Hollingsworth et al v. Perry et al
In 2008, California passed the "California Marriage Protection Act," commonly known as "Prop 8," which declared, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." When lower federal courts held that Prop 8 violated the U.S. Constitution, proponents of Prop 8, a group of private citizens trying to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, brought the case to the Supreme Court to appeal the lower court decision. Today, the Supreme Court held that those Prop 8 proponents did not have the right to appeal the lower court decision stating, "We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here."
In practical terms: same-sex couples will have the legal right to marry in the state of California as they had prior to Prop 8.

United States v. Windsor, Executor of the Estate of Spyer, et al.

In 2009, Edith Windsor was denied access to the spousal exemption of the federal estate tax because her spouse was a woman, resulting in her having to pay $363,053. Windsor challenged Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines "marriage" and "spouse" as being between members of "opposite sex." Today, the Supreme Court held that limiting the definition to between a man and woman, "interfere[s] with the equal dignity of same sex marriages."

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In practical terms: couples legally married in states that recognize same-sex marriages can no longer be denied the 1100-plus marital benefits and obligations afforded by the federal government.

Where Same-Sex Marriage is Legal

Same-sex marriage is legal in the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), France(2013), Brazil (2013), Uruguay (starting Aug. 3) and New Zealand (starting in August). It also is legal on the Caribbean island of Saba, a municipality of the Netherlands (2012).

In Mexico, same-sex marriage is available in the Federal District (Mexico City) and in the states of Oaxaca and Quintana Roo. The marriages are recognized nationwide by Supreme Court order. Mexico has 31 states.

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009), Iowa (2009), New Hampshire (2010), Washington, D.C. (2010), New York (2011), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012), Washington (2012), Rhode Island (starting Aug. 1), Delaware (starting July 1) Minnesota (starting Aug. 1) and California (2008, for four months only, then again in 2013, for good this time, likely starting in July or August). The U.S. has 50 states.

It also is legal the Coquille Tribe (Oregon) since 2008, the Suquamish tribe (Washington) since 2011 and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Michigan), Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (Michigan), and Santa Ysabel Tribe (California) since 2013.

Members of National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations:

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (San Francisco, CA); Central Oklahoma Two Spirit Society (Oklahoma City, OK); City of Angels Two-Spirit Society (Los Angeles, CA); Indiana Two-Spirit Society (Bloomington, IN); Indigenous Peoples Task Force (Minneapolis, MN); Montana Two-Spirit Society (Browning, MT); NativeOUT (Phoenix, AZ); Navajo AIDS Network (Chinle, AZ); NorthEast Two-Spirit Society (New York, NY); Northwest Two-Spirit Society (Seattle, WA); Portland Two Spirit Society (Portland, OR); Texas Two Spirit Society (Dallas, TX); Tulsa Two-Spirit Society (Tulsa, OK); Two-Spirit Society of Indian Canyon (Hollister, CA); Wichita Two-Spirit Society (Wichita, KS).